Embarking on a journey through West Africa unveils narratives intertwined with threads of history and cultural diversity.

West Africa bears a historical legacy evident in countries marked by reminders of the transatlantic slave trade. Cobblestone streets and colonial architecture serve as storytellers, whispering tales of a bygone era and offering visitors an educational journey through time. This depth adds layers to the present, creating a link where each tale connects to a significant chapter in the region’s past.

In this exploration, CNBC Africa profiles some of the notable destinations that illuminate the charm and significance of West Africa.

Discovering Ghana’s Natural Gem: Kakum National Park

Situated approximately a four-hour drive from Ghana’s capital, Accra, Kakum National Park, within the Assin Attandanso Reserve, offers a blend of scenery and wildlife experiences, making it one of the country’s most sought-after attractions.

“The park’s best-known feature is undoubtedly its seven suspension bridges which form a 333-meter long canopy walkway, suspended up to 27 meters above the forest floor from trees that are over 300 years old,” says the Ministry of Tourism.

These bridges provide an adventurous experience, offering panoramic views of the lush surroundings from trees that have stood for centuries.

“The canopy walk is only one of Kakum’s many delights. There are a variety of trails and guided walks that allow visitors to experience the solitude of the rainforest. It’s also a premier site for bird watchers, with over 300 species including eight species of global conservation concern. Mammals include forest elephant, leopard, bongo, bushbuck and many primates, but game viewing is difficult. Also, more than 600 butterfly species have been recorded,” adds the Ministry.


The park also comes alive at night with wildlife sightings, guided by professional guides.

To cater to families, the management has added a children’s park with a mini canopy walkway, swings, and play areas.

Other activities include guided forest walks to learn about medicinal plants, evening drumming and dancing by local cultural groups, and an evening concert by the local Nyamebekyere Kukyekukyeku Orchestra, which performs with bamboo wind instruments.

As the rainforest can surprise with rain at any time, tourists are advised to come prepared with a raincoat and sturdy shoes.

For those seeking an immersive stay, Kakum offers treehouse accommodations.

Tourists can recharge at the cafes in the visitor center, offering basic food, snacks, and fresh juices. Before departure, tourists can browse the gift shop, capturing the essence of Kakum to take home.


Elevated Escapes In Nigeria: Obudu Mountain Resort

In Southern Nigeria lies the Obudu Mountain Resort, also known as Obudu Cattle Ranch, situated on the Obudu Plateau near the Cameroon border in the northeastern part of Cross River State. Offering a blend of adventure and tranquility, it has gained popularity due to its picturesque views, rich vegetation, and temperate climate. The plateau is known to a habitat of rare species of birds.

Opened in 1951 by M. McCaughley, the resort features a winding intestinal road that provides zig-zag views, leading to spots such as Angel’s View — a V-shaped valley between the helipad and Presidential Villa. Another attraction is the Becheve Nature Reserve, a conservation forest with diverse flora and fauna, and the Grotto, a modified mini waterfall with a deep pool.

The resort boasts a canopy walkway, a 100-meter swinging bridge above the forest, and the option to reach the resort at 1,576 meters above sea level via an 11-kilometer winding road or a six-minute cable car ride.

For fitness enthusiasts, there is a gym to aid physical fitness. An in-house restaurant provides a three-course à-la-carte dinner with local wine or beer.

Additionally, there is a spa service where body and mind find balance.

The resort is also known for hosting the annual Obudu Ranch International Mountain Race, hailed the ‘World’s Richest Mountain Race’, in late November, with reportedly the largest total prize money available of any mountain race.


A Living Archive Of Human Resilience In Senegal: Island Of Goreé

In the heart of the Atlantic Ocean, just 3.5 kilometer off the Senegalese coast, lies a 28-hectare expanse known as Gorée Island. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) designation of this small island as a World Heritage Site in 1978 is not merely a recognition of architectural remnants; it’s a testament to an unparalleled human experience etched in the annals of history.

“The Island of Goree was designated a historic site in 1944, with safeguarding measures in 1951 (under the colonial era). It was subsequently inscribed on the national heritage list in 1975 (Order No. 012771 of 17 November 1975) and on the World Heritage List in 1978,” says UNESCO.

Gorée’s haunting past as the largest slave-trading center from the 15th to the 19th century is vividly echoed in the stark contrast between the grim slave-quarters and the elegant houses of the traders.

“This ‘memory island’ is the symbol of the slave trade with its cortege of suffering, tears, and death.” The echoes of suffering reverberate through the tangible elements — the Castle, a rocky plateau with fortifications; the Relais de l’Espadon, former residence of the French governor. These are not just structures; they are storytellers narrating the history of Gorée.

Today, Gorée stands as a living archive, a pilgrimage destination for the African diaspora. The island’s insularity, bolstered by a natural buffer zone provided by the vast Atlantic, preserves its physical integrity.

Liberia’s Largest Protected Rainforest: Sapo National Park

Sapo National Park, located in Sinoe County, Liberia, stands as the country’s largest protected rainforest area and holds the distinction of being the first national park.


According to the Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism, the park boasts “centuries-old trees within whose branches over seven different species of primates, like the endangered Diana monkey, the Upper Guinea Red Colobus and Western Chimpanzee, find sanctuary.”

As the second-largest primary tropical rainforest in West Africa, enveloping over 90% of its expanse, the Sapo National Park supports one of the country’s most diverse floral ecosystems. This includes many endemic species, notably hosting the largest pygmy hippopotamus populations in Liberia.

The park is home to a plethora of bird species, featuring rare gems like the White-breasted Guineafowl and White-necked Rockfowl. With a total of 590 different species, including the African Fish Eagle, Great Blue Turaco, Specklethroated Otter, bee-eaters, kingfishers, rollers, and sunbirds, Sapo offers a haven for bird enthusiasts.

For avid botanists, the park presents opportunity for exploration in the ecosystem. New plant species continue to be discovered within the sanctuary of Sapo. Expert rangers accompany visitors, sharing their knowledge about local plant life and revealing some of their medicinal uses.

Benin’s Time Capsule: The Royal Palaces Of Abomey

In the heart of Benin lies a silent testament to a bygone era – the Royal Palaces of Abomey. From 1625 to 1900, 12 monarchs ruled over the Kingdom of Abomey, leaving behind an architectural marvel that echoes tales of power, culture, and resistance.

“The kingdom shall always be made greater,” declared Wegbaja, the founder of Dahomey, setting the stage for a legacy etched in cob walls and vibrant bas-reliefs. Within the 47-hectare expanse, 12 palaces stand as sentinels of history, each a meticulous blend of Aja-Fon culture and strategic design.


Through the labyrinth of courtyards, portals, and fortifications, the air resonates with the stories of kings who shaped the destiny of the western coast of Africa. The palaces, once vibrant hubs of governance and craftsmanship, now house the Historical Museum of Abomey, preserving the spirit of independence and resistance against colonial forces.

UNESCO recognizes the Royal Palaces of Abomey for their cultural and historical significance. They are not mere structures; they are living witnesses to a glorious past that unfolded from the 17th to the 20th century. The property’s integrity stands safeguarded by a defined buffer zone, ensuring the continuity of this architectural legacy.

Authenticity is not lost amidst the ages; it thrives in the continuous functionality of the palaces. Traditional ceremonies and rehabilitation work resonate with the echoes of the past, sustaining the authenticity of sacred places like Djexo (hut that houses the spirit of the king) and Adoxo (tomb of the king).